Perforated sleeves endorsed by industry group to improve recyclability of PET bottles

Perforated label on can
Sleeved can customers of Verst Logistics also are adopting perforated sleeves.

Brussels-based Petcore Europe’s opaque and difficult to recycle (ODR) PET packaging working group has been focused on increasing the recyclability of sleeved PET bottles. Sleeves can cause problems when PET bottles are being sorted by means of near infrared or optical detectors in waste plastic recovery plants. In order not to lose the valuable material and ensure that it is channeled into the appropriate sorting stream, the group came up with a solution: Perforated sleeves that can be removed by consumers.

During the Petcore Europe Conference on Feb. 7, the official announcement was made by the technical committee of the European PET Bottle Platform (EBPB), which awarded a temporary endorsement to full-body sleeves on household and personal care (HPC) bottles for a period of three years, provided the following conditions are met:

  • The sleeve has double perforations that are easily identifiable and removable by consumers.
  • The packaging industry develops a standardized perforation concept in terms of functionality (easy tearing) and design (immediate recognition), regardless of the type and content of the PET bottle.
  • To support the above, PET bottles with perforated sleeves must carry a standardized message asking the consumer to remove the sleeve from the bottle, and then place both the bottle and sleeve in the collection bin or bag for recycling.
  • The packaging industry must support consumer cooperation with communication campaigns and provide data on the effectiveness of consumer engagement.
  • The PET bottle itself must be compliant with the EPBP guidelines for transparent clear/light blue bottles, and the sleeve should allow recognition of the PET bottle, by polymer, if the sleeve is still present on the bottle before sorting.
  • The sleeve design (materials and inks) must allow it to float in hot water and separate from PET flakes in a sink/float separation step.
  • Printed sleeves may not bleed ink into the washing water.

“The approval is a great example of a cross-value chain approach,” said Petcore Europe ODR working group Chairman Gian De Belder from P&G. “Petcore Europe, EPBP, Plastics Recyclers Europe and other associations worked together to align the industry and improve the design-for-recycling of HPC PET bottles.”

The future of shrink-sleeve technology

On April 1 to 3, AWA Alexander Watson Associates (Amsterdam) will present its international sleeve label conference and exhibition, The Future of Shrink-Sleeve Technology, in Amsterdam. The conference will cover market trends, recycling and sustainability, and printing and converting shrink sleeves.

A look at sleeve perforation and recycling will be presented at the AWA sleeve label conference by Will Schretzman, Vice President, Packaging, for Verst Logistics (Walton, KY). Schretzman has been a long-time advocate for perforated sleeve labels. “Shrink sleeves with perforations remove easily and leave virtually nothing behind on the bottle,” he told PlasticsToday. “I see this as a competitive advantage for sleeves over [other] technologies.”

Schretzman was pleased to learn about the decision made by the technical committee of the European PET Bottle Platform. He noted that many of Verst’s current customers are adopting the double perforation at the seam of the sleeve of plastic bottles. “Our sleeved can customers are adopting the perforation, as well,” he noted.

“With all the negative press related to plastic bottles it’s about time we get serious about this,” Schretzman added. Once a brand leads, the category will follow. It just takes one company to take the leap. I’m glad it’s finally going to happen.”

Attendees at the AWA Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition can attend Schretzman’s presentation, where he will review the various options for sleeve recycling including floatable films, de-seaming technology and perforations.

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